Army

Tributes Paid To 'Outstanding' Soldier Who Died At Castlemartin Ranges

Sergeant Gavin Hillier died on Thursday night after being injured in a live firing exercise.

Tributes have been paid to Sergeant Gavin Hillier who died after being fatally injured in a live firing exercise at Castlemartin Ranges in Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales on Thursday night.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has confirmed Sgt Hillier, from 1st Battalion the Welsh Guards, was 35-years-old when he died.

Sgt Hillier’s wife Karyn Hillier and sons Declan and Connor said: "I thank you for the day you came into my life and made me your wife and became the father to our two beautiful boys.

"We are absolutely heartbroken and can't express how proud we are of you.

"Our boys will continue to make you proud and you will forever live on through them.

"Daddy we are not ready to say goodbye just yet so until we meet again, we love you always.

In a Facebook post, Sgt Hillier’s father, Mark said he was "heartbroken" and "absolutely devastated".

Sergeant Hillier’s mother Karen Selway and her partner Malcolm said: "You made me so proud of you from the day you were born and we will be proud for always."

Sgt Hillier was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct medal by The Prince of Wales in 2019 in recognition of his outstanding contribution (Picture: Welsh Guards/Facebook).

Dyfed-Powys Police, who are leading the investigation into Sgt Hillier’s death said the family are being supported by specialist officers.

His Platoon Commander, Captain R Beckett said: "I am proud, grateful and honoured to have had Sergeant ‘Gav’ Hillier as my Colour Sergeant.

"Gav’s style of leadership always got the best out of the Platoon and his personality was infectious.

"He was my rock when I needed guidance, never afraid to offer me advice and was a fierce Welshman."

Sgt Hillier deployed on operations in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan; he was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct medal by The Prince of Wales in 2019 in recognition of his outstanding contribution.

Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion the Welsh Guards Lieutenant Colonel H S Llewelyn-Usher added: "Sergeant Hillier’s tragic death has sent shockwaves across the Battalion.

"He was extremely popular and widely respected, drawing on his significant experience to lead and develop his subordinates; he was truly one of my best Sergeants.

"Our thoughts are with his family and friends following this heart-breaking incident."

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "I am deeply saddened by the news of Sgt Gavin Hillier’s death.

Sgt Hillier died in a non-operational training incident at Castlemartin Ranges in Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales on Thursday.

"The dedication and distinction he demonstrated through his long Army career is evident in the testimony of those who served with him."

In a statement, Dyfed-Powys Police said: "Dyfed-Powys Police were called to the site at just before 10.45pm on Thursday, March 4.

"Sadly, a man was pronounced dead shortly after.

"Officers are liaising with the Health and Safety Executive and MOD."

The Welsh Guards wrote in a post on Facebook : "He was universally loved across the Battalion and his death has been a terrible shock.

"Renowned for his prowess on the rugby field and his keen sense of humour, his professionalism and dedication to service was outstanding."

The Welsh Guards are Wales’ Senior Infantry Regiment and are currently training to deploy on Operation Shader in Iraq this year.

Picture: MOD.